By: Ryan Gould

Forget the consumer space—enterprise is where artificial intelligence and machine learning are really revolutionizing the sales landscape. Part of this is due to the fact that B2B companies can’t afford to let technology outpace their initiatives.

Case in point, according to Forbes, 63% of businesses say pressure to reduce costs will require them to use AI, and even more believe AI gives them a competitive advantage.

Yet with a majority of executives saying that AI solutions increase productivity and help to identify opportunities, a paltry 23% have incorporated AI into their operation. There are a number of applications for AI, but now we look at how this technology, which is predicted to be a $190 billion industry by 2025, is transforming the sales experience for companies, reps, and customers.

AI is taking over administrative support

One way in which AI is boosting operational efficiency is by taking on the more mundane tasks traditionally associated with sales departments. Processes that used to be handled by humans one task at a time are now multi-tasking administrative AI bots that are performing them at superhuman speeds. Bots are facilitating sales departments by, among other things…

  • Scheduling meetings

  • Booking meetings

  • Identifying high-priority emails

  • Identifying new contacts

  • Annotating phone calls

But these bots can provide sales departments with a host of other data, too, from account and contact details, deal classifications, quota info, pending deals by revenue size, and more. They can also not only identify leads but analyze social media profiles to help point sales teams to potential decision makers.

In short, AI is the new all-in-one virtual assistant on call 24 hours a day.

AI is predicting customer experiences

One of the drawbacks to traditional, non-AI-based CRM systems is trying to keep customer data up-to-the-second relevant. After all, how many times has a sales rep contacted a prospect from their email list or elsewhere and found that the contact info is no longer relevant? Maybe the prospect relocated or changed jobs or job titles.

With AI’s ability to track and manage mass amounts of customer data at any given time, sales teams not only know they have the most up-to-date info possible but they can then use it to create a predictive experience for the potential customer. They can tailor pitches and deliver them at the exact moment the customer is most likely to buy. This can all but revolutionize the lead generation capabilities of your typical sales department.

AI is optimizing sales forecasting

Not only is AI helping sales teams to better predict the customer experience, it is leading to more accurate sales forecasting, too. It’s simple: when you take sales forecasting out of the hands of human analysts and hand it over to machine-learning algorithms, you eliminate human error. Moreover, you’re leaving it in the virtual hands of an entity that can process huge data sets at lightning speed.

For these reasons, AI can more accurately predict next quarter’s profits based on the hard data it is analyzing right now. This can be a godsend for human sales managers and department heads, who when armed with more accurate forecasting can better allocate resources and manpower where it’s needed the most.

AI is enhancing lead scoring

Going hand in hand with sales forecasting is lead scoring. No salesperson wants to spend their day chasing what they thought were qualified prospects only to find out the data was off and the whole thing is a blind alley. AI’s data processing ability means it can tell sales teams to a greater certainty which leads are more likely to convert, and thus those teams can better manage their time and effort.

AI can better recognize upsetting and cross-selling opportunities
The goal for any sales team is to convert leads to customers and sell to that customer over and over down the road. Before, the responsibility for recognizing these cross-selling/upselling opportunities fell on the shoulders of the salesperson. But, like the other points mentioned above, AI is changing that dynamic.

Now, AI software can integrate with your CRM/ERP data and present a market-based analysis using data-mining methods to predict which customers are amenable to targeted offers. This doesn’t just recognize upsetting opportunities in the immediate, either. Just as it can forecast future sales, AI can also predict upselling/cross-selling opportunities down the road. It does this by looking at everything from the customer’s purchase history to their likes on social media, shares, etc.

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Conclusion

These are just a few of the ways AI is transforming sales. And this trend is only expected to grow. Gartner, in fact, predicts that by 2020 30% of B2Bs will be using AI to augment their sales processes. And the Harvard Business Review found that companies using AI were able to increase their leads by 50%. Don’t let your business get left behind in the rapid march of progress.

Ryan Gould – rygould

VP. of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing

From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations.

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